effective B2B content
Developing an effective B2B content marketing strategy requires an informed and coordi-nated approach. B2B companies should recognize how they differ from their B2C counterparts, align content investments with objectives at each point in the sales cycle,
and invest in the capabilities to execute campaigns effectively.
And insights from subject matter experts (SMEs) can be a differentiator—
particularly as B2B companies try to move from providing discrete services to being seen as a strategic partner.
When done well, content marketing can accomplish several objectives simultaneously
B2B content marketing must demonstrate how these products and solutions, as well
as the companies providing them, can deliver tangible value. In the B2B sales cycle, evidence, analysis, and trusted relationships take priority over pithy catchphrases or
cute commercials. Content marketing enables companies to showcase their indus-
try knowledge and insight on the common issues that their customers face. The best content provides new perspectives and analyses, sometimes based on proprietary research and surveys. And it also offers recommendations on how best to manage
sales efforts and business development
the profile of its experts
a company's brand
Why content marketing is essential
to B2B companies
Unique insights, proprietary research, and
material from client engagements that
are distributed to a defined audience through
The tone is objective rather than overtly
The creation and distribution of content to
current and prospective customers with
the goals of business development, customer
retention, and reputation building.
Content marketing comprises various
strategies and tactics, from thought leadership to paid brand content.
Before we go on, there’s an important distinction to make between
content marketing and thought leadership—and how the two are related.
B2B content marketing: 2016 benchmarks, budgets, and trends—North America, Content Marketing Institute.
Since longer content pieces ask prospective customers to commit a significant amount of time, B2B companies should consider repurposing material into shorter, bite-size content (one-pagers, infographics, and chart-based articles) that provide multiple paths to the lengthier text.
In-person events are high touch but also labor intensive.
Webinars, case studies, and white papers can have a long shelf life but often require considerable time and effort to produce.
Videos are easily consumed and shared but typically require external vendors to handle production.
Top five most effective content marketing tactics*
A B2B company’s prospective customers are typically seeking answers and information to specific questions. These issues—and their solutions—are often complex and differ
by industry. It’s little wonder, then, that the top B2B marketing tactics all offer the opportunity to go into some detail.
Choosing the right content formats
LinkedIn, for example, may have been created as a networking tool for professionals,
but it has become an effective channel for sharing content with like-minded audiences.
By contrast, B2B companies that direct a lot of resources to Facebook or Instagram, for
example, will typically find that these efforts miss the mark. The reason: people, executives included, go to these channels for social purposes, rather than to conduct business.
Their massive numbers of registered users may tempt marketers to rationalize activities as
playing the percentages, but B2B content marketing is better suited to other channels.
Businesspeople are deluged with information at every turn, so knowing where they consume content, then, is critical when determining how best to distribute and promote your insights. Instead of lumping all social media channels together, companies must consider the audience and intentions of each to determine which ones would be an effective platform.
Know your distribution channels
the mix of formats and distribution channels
Manage teams and contributors
Create a production framework
the content platform
four steps are
elements to build
an effective B2B
content marketing campaign
The growing demand for content puts pressure on B2B companies to publish regularly. But without strategic planning and development, the flurry of activity can amount to wasted effort. Effective content marketing for B2B companies is not solely about regular distribution; it’s about quality content that demonstrates deep knowledge, fresh ideas, and valuable insights.
Measuring the effectiveness of content marketing can be challenging; many B2B companies struggle to connect content with business value. The best way to understand whether content is effective, however, is to establish goals and performance indicators at the outset. Whether it’s generating incremental website traffic or arming sales and marketing teams with pieces that showcase innovative thinking, understanding the goal of thought leadership, and how to measure it, leads to results.
Establishing your audience and understanding their needs and interests will help ensure your ideas resonate with them. Articulate the issues they face and share the ways you approach those challenges. Knowing your audience also informs your format and distribution strategy—consider how they take in thought leadership and where they expect to find it.
Identify the target audience
Establish the key ideas, opinions, and expertise that
are worth sharing
What distinguishes your B2B brand in the marketplace? If it’s your subject matter experts, tap them for their insights and opinions. If it’s proprietary research, translate the research into actionable insights to create a dialogue unique to your company.
1. Develop the content platform
In the strategy and planning phase, creating an editorial calendar builds a foundation for your efforts. It helps to organize and prioritize content opportunities and aids in aligning content with business strategy and goals.
Identify and fill
gaps in the content
strategy and process
Prioritize topics and trends, with flexibility
to respond to shifts in
the marketplace, new research and findings, and news events
Quickly evaluate available resources and align writers
and subject matter
experts on the most relevant pieces
Manage the process
to distribution and
direction for all
Using the calendar
as a tool allows
Creating and publishing effective content requires a committed approach across
your organization. A production framework with a clearly defined editorial mission and
content objectives is key to mobilizing your SMEs, writers and editors, designers,
and marketing teams.
2. Create a production framework
The editorial calendar is also useful in managing the final stage of content
development—revision. Producing high-quality content is an iterative process.
Effective content marketing relies on pieces that have gone through rounds
of revision to identify gaps, sharpen ideas, and draw out key insights.
Creating a process to work with subject matter experts or interviewees is important. These professionals are extremely busy, so a thoughtful approach is key to maximizing time and resources. A statement of purpose in the editorial calendar will guide the conversation and identify the questions each piece should answer.
3. Manage teams and contributors
Guided by your content strategy, create a mix of formats to distribute your ideas across
different channels. We explore this topic in more depth on our website here.
4. Determine the mix of formats and distribution channels
B2B sales cycle
1. How do we know if this content was successful?
2. What impact did the content have?
As stakeholders across the organization use thought leadership content as sales
and marketing material, gathering the reactions and conversations can build a store of first-party data that helps refine content strategy.
Subscriptions indicate brand affinity and form a founda-
tion for regular interaction between B2B companies
and current and potential clients.
As with other engagement
metrics, comments are
an area where the focus
should be on quality over
quantity. Quality comments
start a virtual dialogue
and alert you to challenges
in the marketplace.
Shares, whether via
social channels or email,
demonstrate that your
content is adding value to
Since the audience
is narrowcast, visits or impressions are less valuable than engagement
metrics. Monitoring time
on site and following a visitor’s path will yield valuable audience data.
Understanding how your audience found your
content helps ensure placement of content in effective channels and
better budget allocation
for paid media.
Time on site
After B2B companies create and distribute content, there are two question that often arise:
Assessing and refining content strategy
B2B content marketing requires a different approach—one closely aligned with the
longer cycle of relationship-based sales. In addition, a company's unique insights
and expertise are the fuel for successful campaigns. By developing a comprehensive
content development strategy, understanding how to harness the digital ecosystem,
and diligently tracking results, B2B companies can ensure that content marketing in-vestments directly support their business goals.
From strategy to action
Storytelling is always evolving, and that’s a good thing
Does clickbait work in the B2B world?
Do the fundamentals of B2C communication translate to a modern B2B world?
The best content marketing strategy for your company:
A B2B and B2C comparison
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